Life is an awful, ugly place to not have a best friend.
I've changed in my sympathies since I've become a mother myself. In high school I went through a period where I was close with my mom and had to break with her in order to find myself and come back. Since that was my experience, that's often what happens in my books.
When I was a teen, I was never really into the captain of the football team or the student body president. The guys I liked were quirky and different: They listened to music I'd never heard of, never had lunch or gas money, and could always make you laugh.
I think my mother characters have changed a lot since Sasha was born, just because I understand what a hard job it is now, and I'm coming at it from another angle - like you just love and care about this person so much, and just want to protect them from everything.
I was born in 1970 in Illinois, but all the life I remember I've spent in Chapel Hill, N.C.
I don't live in New York or California. I'm in the grocery store, at the park with my kids, and I'm a normal person. I'm feeding my chickens and agonizing about my next book!